@ O2 Islington Academy, London, UK
13th March 2014
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Photos by Graham Hilling
Next time London decide they want to bulldoze one of our beloved music venues perhaps they could invite the wrecking crew, aka Overkill, along. At least then we’d be guaranteed one more good time before ‘progress’ steps in. Cause after more than 30 years Overkill know about good times, and crucially with them progress isn’t a frightening word. Because in Overkill’s case it doesn’t mean destroying the existing but keeping building on those foundations. Maybe it’s because they’re not British. Take note London.
On the other hand, whilst the O2 Islington seems pretty secure, tonight’s line-up might do it some internal damage. Starting with last-year reformers Xentrix (3.5/5) who sound good, but sound like a band of a certain era. Which they are being one of the thrash bands on the cusp of something more than 20 years ago. The material has a whiff of a couple of decades on it and you know it.
The questions is though, when those riffs come striding out of the speakers do you care that some of them are well past their teens? Not so much it seems. Plus new track “Word Of Mouth” tentatively suggests Xentrix may just be able to cut it in the here and now.
Soilwork (4/5) themselves come on admitting that they are the odd ones out on this line-up; they’re the younger meat in between old, but clearly not yet stale, bread-and-butter bands. Having made the journey over from Sweden, these melodic metallers keep the tech guy busy throughout first song “This Momentary Bliss” with turn this up and this down gestures, which makes for some uneven listening.
With the sound more or less there, the rest of the set is predominantly given over to the band’s newer material with tracks like “Parasite Blues” sounding a lot like a more hardline Killswitch Engage. Comparatively oldies “Like The Average Stalker” and “Bastard Chain” prove somewhat harder nuts to crack your skull on.
And whilst the keyboards constantly swing between being vital and ineffective, bassist Ola Flink’s continuous wide mouthed grin, which only serves to provide him with a gob full of hair every second, brings a smile on your own face. A quick glance around though suggests that despite their obvious differences to what’s coming next, Soilwork are doing a pretty good job keeping it there.
Intro/This Momentary Bliss
Like The Average Stalker
Spectrum Of Eternity
Rise Above The Sentiment
Stabbing The Drama
It only takes a few simple effects but Overkill (5/5) are a band who make something of an entrance. A band from a time when everyone could make an entrance through the simple act of turning up. Because they had that kind of charisma. And with the fuse primed and ready, it only takes the drum rolls of appropriate opener “Come And Get It” to see the pit explode.
Have Overkill really been doing this for over 30 years? The band positively attack each and every song, putting in a true performance as opposed to the perception of one. Age only seems to enhance frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, whether bounding on and off stage during the instrumental parts or high-fiving crowd surfers. Oh and then there’s that voice, that unusual, distinctive, high-into-nasty tone, which by rights should sound like absolute crap by now, but actually only seems to get better.
With the delay of the new album removing any promotional responsibilities, the setlist does as it pleases whilst sticking close to classic favourites such as “Wrecking Crew” and “Hammerhead”. It may not be the ‘new’ one any more, but “Electric Rattlesnake” from latest album ‘The Electric Age’ still puts a current through the crowd, sending the pit into a supercharged frenzy.
Maintaining his reputation as one of the nicest guys in metal, Bobby’s between song chatter is not only charming, it demonstrates his way with words whilst leading effortlessly into what’s coming next. Which includes “Rotten To The Core” – a track Overkill have been pedalling since their birth years and yet still stands with a straighter back than songs half its age.
No lethargy, no ‘give us a minute’ pauses, Overkill continue to move with the grace and ferocity we’ve come to expect as the sterling “Ironbound” and stirringly-titled“Hello From The Gutter” both attest to. “In Union We Stand” is their Judas Priest meets Iron Maiden inspirational one, which asks for those on the floor to join in, and they do so willingly. No doubt in part because in Overkill’s case you truly feel like you are part of something, just by being here tonight you’re part of something and connected to each and every other person in the room.
Thrash bands don’t appear to slow down, but only get faster as the years go on if closer “Elimination” is any sort of measure with Overkill seeming to try and push the song into truly break-neck speed territory. And not one of them falls behind, although the crowd will feel it. Not even tomorrow, probably in the next few minutes. Finally “Fuck You”, The Subhumans’ cover which has become as much an Overkill song, says goodnight in the nicest way possible as crowd and band both raise a middle finger as the last “Fuck you” leaves their collective throats.
In our chat just a few hours before, Bobby stated quite simply that Overkill play every show like it’s their last. No half measures, or recycled performances. If that was the final show then, it was a great one. They truly wrecked us. Let it not be the last.
Come And Get It
Rotten To The Core
Bring Me The Night
Hello From The Gutter
Thanks For Nothin’
In Union We Stand